LINDA A. JOHNSON AP Business Writer TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A top Johnson & Johnson researcher said Thursday the company will cure, prevent or stifle cancer by producing better-targeted drugs, paired with improved diagnostic tests. J&J researchers also are focusing more on other areas with huge unmet medical need, including diabetes, hepatitis C, HIV, schizophrenia and tuberculosis, company executives told analysts at an all-day briefing on the health-care giant’s pharmaceutical business. The world’s most broadly based health care company said it is now launching two new drugs and has seven more awaiting approval in the U.S. and Europe, giving it what analysts say is one of the pharmaceutical industry’s best late-stage drug pipelines. Dr. William Hait, a highly regarded academic researcher lured to direct J&J’s cancer research in March 2007, told analysts the company aims to become a leader in cancer therapy within the next five years. That will be done partly through acquisitions, such as its recent $900 million deal to buy Cougar Biotechnology, and also through a host of partnerships with other companies and institutions, including a huge Chinese cancer hospital. “Johnson and Johnson will transform cancer to a preventable, chronic or curable disease by delivering extraordinary diagnostic and therapeutic solutions that prolong and improve patients’ lives,” Hait said. The New Brunswick, N.J.-based company wasn’t a big player in oncology until recently, and needs to license or develop more cancer drugs to be one, but might be able to help accomplish a longtime goal of cancer researchers, said analyst Linda Bannister of Edward Jones. J&J is finding new mechanisms to attack cancer and has a smart strategy in using its expertise in diagnostics to find “the right drug at the right time” for each patient, she said. Miller Tabak analyst Les Funtleyder noted scientists now have a much more refined understanding of cancer and many more targets to attack, and already have made breast cancer almost completely curable. “Combination therapy will certainly help turn at least some cancers into chronic disease,” as drugs have done for AIDS, he said. Already, J&J sells Velcade for multiple myeloma, Doxil for relapsed ovarian cancer, plus two blockbusters for treating anemia caused by chemotherapy, Procrit and Eprex. Doxil is awaiting U.S. approval for advanced breast cancer, and J&J has two compounds in late-stage testing for prostate cancer and another, Yondelis, for relapsed ovarian cancer. Funtleyder said J&J showed promising data for some drugs awaiting approval or in late testing, including Stelara for psoriasis and Simponi, a successor to blockbuster Remicade, which treats rheumatoid arthritis and a host of other immunological disorders. J&J also is testing a drug that is in a promising new class of diabetes treatments called SGLT2 drugs, he noted, but getting approval from the Food and Drug Administration has not been easy of late. “They’ve got a lot of things that seem to have stalled with the FDA,” he said, including Yondelis, anti-clotting drug rivaroxaban and Prililgy for premature ejaculation. Still, Funtleyder praised the company’s increasing use of genetic sequencing of tumors in cancer research and its focus on biomarkers, measurable signs such as changes in blood that can determine how a disease is progressing or how well a treatment is working. In keeping with the Obama administration’s priorities for health-care reform, research directors for several disease areas at J&J said their teams have been doing larger patient studies of experimental drugs that compare them to widely used treatments rather than placebos, a new trend called comparative effectiveness research. And J&J is doing more studies seeking “hard endpoints” — for example, how many heart attacks or strokes are prevented by a drug, rather than improvements in cholesterol or blood sugar. Patients and payers increasingly demand such information. “When a (new) drug is approved, they can have confidence that there’ll be a market” because of that strategy, Bannister said. Meanwhile, Sheri McCoy, J&J’s worldwide chairman for pharmaceuticals, told analysts the company might get into selling “branded generics” in developing countries, where J&J and most other large drugmakers have been focusing their growth efforts, as rising middle-class incomes mean more customers. Pfizer Inc. and other top companies have recently made moves to start selling branded generics in those emerging markets, saying their respected name would guarantee a quality product in countries where counterfeit drugs are a huge problem. “That looks more attractive to us than getting into generics in the United States,” McCoy said.